How to Use Audience Insights for Paid Media Campaigns

Maria Bain

Head of Audience Intelligence

When it comes to planning paid media campaigns, your audience should always come first. Gone are the digital-first days, when we thought we should throw in every channel and format to create a cracking campaign. We’re now in the audience-first era of digital marketing. We want to be a part of audience culture, speak to them on their chosen platforms and engage them with great creative and messaging that matters.

Personalisation, omnichannel and data-driven marketing might sound like tired digital buzzwords, but they all make for powerful journeys with one key thing in common: putting the audience at the heart of the campaign. With proper data analysis and audience research, you can understand a brand’s real customers and build better strategies. Here‘s how…

1. Trend capitalisation

Understanding behaviour trends within your audience segments can offer unique opportunities and give your media campaign a strategic edge. Say, for example, you found your audience is making an effort towards sustainable living. Can you use this trend insight to drive your brand’s messaging and creative? 


It can be tricky to avoid demographic profiling, but do try to move away from generational segmentation. Carry out research into industry trends and you’ll get to know your audiences on a deeper level than their age and income.

2. Channel ecosystem

So, you know a bit more about your audience and what they want. Now you can find out what channels they’re using so you can target them with the perfect paid media ecosystem. Are you a luxury brand looking for a sophisticated audience? Do you want to discover what platforms frequent travellers use to satisfy their wanderlust? Use insights to uncover the digital environments where you can find your audience – where they might appreciate being served a message about your product or service. Activate your campaign on these channels and make your budget work harder. You should also choose your marketing channels based on their ability to move your audience through the buying journey stages – from initial consideration to active evaluation. And this is where you can think about format, creative and messaging.

3. Creative messaging

The best way to know how to talk to your audience is through insights. Find out what really matters to them and it’ll help you build a messaging matrix for your campaign – from the point of awareness to conversion. And through search and social listening (more on this later), you can identify where users are in their buying journey, which helps you create the right messaging to grab their attention at that phase. For customers at the beginning of their journey, you may want to go broad with your creative messaging, introducing them to your brand and product in an friendly way. If customers are in the final phases of their journey, you may want to pull through a particular unmet need, interest or trigger point that’ll speak to your audience on a direct level. You might already know what content or products they’ve previously seen from your brand – this is your chance to take the next step and make your creative messaging personalised.

4. Cross-channel sequential

Cross-channel sequential paid media (otherwise known as sequential retargeting) focuses on an audience based on their previous actions, or exposure to your content, messaging or product. If you take this paid media approach you can create a seamless experience for your customers through every channel and device. By sharing audience data across platforms in pixel, customer relationship management (CRM) or demand-side platform (DSP) stacks you can create personalised digital journeys. One of the most powerful campaign tactics, sequential campaigns only work if you’ve nailed your channel ecosystem. You should be able to move your customers through their purchase journey through sequential media and your creative messaging, and for all this, you need audience insights.

5. Search and social seasonality

Search and social listening tools give you the power to identify what your audience is searching for privately, and what they’re talking about openly online. Combining both types of research gives insight into both private and public needs of your audience.

Using tools like Brandwatch, you can see what trending conversations are happening around your brand or products to help feed reactive messaging and fulfil search trends. What’s more, you can see where your audiences are most prominent in their purchase journey and where your paid media should work harder to move them along. Search data provides seasonality insights, so you can plan your campaign around a more relevant time for your product or audience. During a surge in non-brand searches you may want to turn the dial up on media that’ll drive brand consideration, then during brand searches, turn down the dial on brand consideration to focus on driving conversions.


When it comes to creating brilliant paid media campaigns, you need to get your audience strategy and planning done well and done right, before you start spending. A solid audience understanding will allow you to plan your channel ecosystem, creative messaging, targeting and phasing with ease. And with better planning you’ll lower media spend wastage, create niche audience segments with increased performance, understand opportunities for test and learns, and most importantly, create personalised digital journeys for your most valuable customers.


Want help with your audience strategy and planning? Contact maria.bain@icrossing.co.uk

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